Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: Anglo American is taking steps to generate electricity from water in its underground mines.
Creamer: This is fantastic. We’ve thought about this for decades, but never done it. You get 6 000 abandoned mines in South Africa, not all of them are suitable for this, but many of them have been flooded with water. That water serves as a battery and now with renewable energy, Anglo American will be allowed to generate up to 100 MW.
They are looking to bringing in a power from the east coast’s wind energy, the west coast’s wind energy and solar energy from the heat from the Northern Cape, so they will have renewable energy. When they have a need to pump water to a higher tank, when they have got enough renewable energy and things are not in high-demand, they will use that renewable energy to pump water to a high reservoir. When there is peak power needed, they release that water and, of course, gravity pulls that water down and you get that water to turn the turbines.
In turning the turbines, you generate clean electricity, hydroelectricity. This is just at a time where South Africa needs as much electricity as it can get and also we need clean electricity, so it serves two purposes.
Kamwendo: A mine truck fleet of 400 is to be converted from diesel power to green and clean hydrogen power.
Creamer: If we go to Mogalakwena in the Limpopo Province, that platinum-group metals mine there has virtually become a big laboratory. Being built there is a huge haul-truck used in mining. Not a small one, but when I am looking at the picture here it is massive tonnage. The wheels are taller than humans.
What they are doing is that they are preparing this as a case study. Early next year they will be launching this massive truck. This will be run on green hydrogen. They will have renewables and hydropower being developed and they will use that to generate green hydrogen from water. They have got water there that they use in the mining and then use that green hydrogen to power this enormous truck. This will be the start of a complete change in their fleet.
They will take 10 trucks at a time and replace them plus an electrolyser and this throughout the world. It is going to spread throughout the world and 400 of these haul trucks will be involved and they will be converted to green hydrogen which is clean and which mitigates against climate change.
Kamwendo: The greenest of green new technology platinum plants is under construction in North West province.
Creamer: This is fantastic news. Sedibelo Platinum Mines down in North West province is now at an advanced stage of constructing a new Kell-technology plant. South Africa’s State-owned Industrial Development Corporation is also heavily involved in this new technology. This technology reduces the use of electricity by 82%.
So, you only need to use 18% of the normal electricity that is required for processing platinum group metals. What they will do with that 18% is they will convert that to renewable energy so you will have 100% green operation there. But, that is not the end of the story. This whole new technology is so fantastic that you don’t need to send your platinum group metals to be refined as is the case now. The refining takes place at the mine, which is such an advance.
When they get orders for their platinum group metals, they can actually produce to order at the mine. This gives far more jobs to people living around the mine in rural communities. It is much more operationally effective and lowers costs, so it wins on every front. That is Sedibelo Platinum Mines, out in North West Province.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.